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Sustainable Management of Agricultural Systems (SuMAS) is a joint project between Cornell University and the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. SuMAS gives student interns the opportunity to learn new skills at Cornell which they can apply to natural resource management and agriculture in Puerto Rico. Read on to learn more about the program and to hear from one of the student interns, Sadiel Andres Negrón.

The program’s summer internship is led by Maricelis Acevedo, research professor of global development, who focuses on pairing selected students with Cornell faculty, coordinating field visits across New York state and educational and professional development activities, and facilitating an experiential learning process. David Sotomayor, professor of soil science at the University of Puerto Rico, leads the program in Puerto Rico which selects students and prepares them for their internships. 

Funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) Education Grants Program, this competitive program allows students to explore many fields revolving around sustainable crop, livestock and resource management. 

Negrón is graduating with his bachelor’s degree in agronomy at the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez and will embark on a master’s degree program next year. As part of his degree program, he was expected to spend at least one summer working in the field. He found the SuMAS program intriguing, so he applied and soon made his way to Cornell.

We sat down with Negrón, to hear more about his experience as an intern with the program. 

Negrón spent his six-week SuMAS internship with Cornell’s Nutrient Management Spear Program (NMSP) under the leadership of Dr. Quirine Ketterings. He gained many field skills and a lot of practical experience working directly with the on-farm research coordinator of the team, Juan Carlos Ramos Tanchez. Ramos Tanchez exposed him to the Value of Manure project and other on-farm research that evaluates sustainable practices in different areas of New York. 

“On his very first day with us, I took him to meet team members and join them for measurements of greenhouse gas emissions at a local farm,” Ketterings recalls. “He jumped right in, helping out with the measurements and learning about the project.”

Negrón gained experience both in the field and in the lab. He helped Ramos Tanchez analyze data for the New York State Value of Manure project and produced figures that summarize the findings. He also learned how to take soil samples and worked on communicating effectively in a professional environment. “I gained a lot of knowledge and I was able to contribute to the main project in a meaningful way,” he said.

"I gained a lot of knowledge and I was able to contribute to the main project in a meaningful way."

Ramos Tanchez agreed that Negrón’s help made a difference to the project. “Having Sadiel with us this semester was great,” he said. “He gained exposure to the New York State agricultural system and our on-farm research network, and our team learned about the challenges and opportunities of Puerto Rico’s agriculture.

Negrón accomplished his goals of pushing himself out of his comfort zone and learning more about the realm of higher education. This internship further encouraged him to enroll in a master’s degree in bioengineering and plant breeding. “It was a great experience, professionally and personally," he said, "I’d recommend it to anybody. It was engaging and fruitful, and really motivated me to expand my horizons in the future. I’m looking forward to more experiences like that later in my career.”

“It was a great experience, professionally and personally, I’d recommend it to anybody. It was engaging and fruitful, and really motivated me to expand my horizons in the future. I’m looking forward to more experiences like that later in my career.”

 

Madeline Hanscom is a writer for the Nutrient Management Spear Program.

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